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Why is My Rhubarb Plant Drooping

Updated: July 2, 2023

Rhubarb is a popular perennial plant that is widely grown for its tart, tangy stalks. It is a hardy plant that can thrive in various climates and is relatively easy to care for. However, like any other plant, rhubarb can sometimes experience issues such as drooping leaves. If you notice your rhubarb plant drooping, it is essential to understand the possible causes and take corrective measures to ensure the health and vitality of your plant.

Lack of Water

One of the most common reasons for drooping rhubarb plants is a lack of water. Rhubarb requires consistent moisture to grow and develop properly. If the soil around your rhubarb plant becomes dry, the leaves will start to wilt and droop.

To prevent this issue, it is important to water your rhubarb plant regularly. Aim for deep, thorough watering once or twice a week, ensuring that the soil remains consistently moist but not overly saturated. Mulching around the base of the plant can also help retain moisture in the soil.


While under-watering can cause drooping in rhubarb plants, overwatering can have the same effect. If you are providing your rhubarb plant with too much water, it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases, which can cause the leaves to droop and turn yellow.

To avoid overwatering your rhubarb, make sure to check the moisture level of the soil before watering. Stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle – if it feels moist, then hold off on watering. Additionally, ensure that your rhubarb is planted in well-draining soil to prevent excess water retention.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Another common cause of drooping leaves in rhubarb plants is nutrient deficiencies. Rhubarb requires a balanced supply of essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to grow vigorously. If any of these nutrients are lacking in the soil, it can lead to weak growth and drooping leaves.

To address nutrient deficiencies, it is important to fertilize your rhubarb plant regularly. A balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 blend, can provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, typically in early spring and again after harvesting.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases can also cause rhubarb plants to droop. Common pests that affect rhubarb include aphids, slugs, and snails. These pests feed on the leaves and stems, causing them to wilt and droop. Additionally, rhubarb can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and crown rot, which can also lead to drooping leaves.

To control pests, regularly inspect your rhubarb plant for any signs of infestation and take appropriate measures to eliminate them. Organic pest control methods such as handpicking or using insecticidal soap can be effective. For fungal diseases, ensure good air circulation around the plant and avoid overhead watering to prevent moisture buildup.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also contribute to drooping rhubarb plants. Excessive heat or prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause stress to the plant, leading to wilting and drooping leaves. Similarly, extremely cold temperatures can damage the plant’s tissues and result in drooping.

To protect your rhubarb from extreme weather conditions, consider providing shade during hot summer days or covering the plant with a frost cloth during cold snaps. Avoid planting rhubarb in areas with excessive wind exposure, as it can also cause stress and drooping.


If you notice your rhubarb plant drooping, it is crucial to identify the underlying cause and take appropriate action. Whether it is a lack of water, overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, pests, diseases, or environmental factors, addressing the issue promptly can help restore the health and vigor of your rhubarb plant. By providing adequate water, proper nutrients, pest control, and suitable environmental conditions, you can ensure that your rhubarb plant thrives and produces a bountiful harvest of delicious stalks.